• February 14, 2017

Betty Lou Erdman, John Henry Howard Killed, William Chandler McHenry Injured in Accident in Holden Beach, NC

Holden Beach, NC -- An alleged drunk driving crash in the area of Holden Beach, NC claimed the lives of Betty Lou Erdman and John Henry Howard & left William Chandler McHenry with injuries February 2, 2017.

The incident took place at 2000 Kirby Road around 8 p.m.

It looks like a vehicle driven by 24-year-old William Chandler McHenry was traveling near Holden Beach when it collided head-on with a second vehicle. The driver of the second vehicle, 84-year-old John Henry Howard, was transported to Brunswick Health Novant Medical Center. The report claims the later succumbed to his injuries. A passenger in Mr. Howard's vehicle, Betty Lou Erdman, 87, was injured in the collision. She was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, but died ten days later.

Mr. McHenry sustained undisclosed injuries in the crash.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, however, police say they believe alcohol was a factor.

William Chandler McHenry faces multiple charges related to the incident.

map of the area


When I read this the first time, the charges that stood out most to me are the two counts of second-degree murder. Why does this stand out? Well, this would imply that the suspected drunk driver's actions are considered particularly egregious when the accident occurred.

In fact, I was so surprised by the severity of the charges that I had to go look up what constitutes second-degree murder in North Carolina.

Under the North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-17:

An individual is guilty of second-degree murder if:

  1. There is an intentional killing with malice, but without premeditation(in other words, all murders not charged as first-degree murder)

Based upon the charges, authorities have to show that the accused acted maliciously. This is curious because North Carolina has a vehicular manslaughter charge for drunk drivers that kill someone. Unlike other states, the penalty for vehicular manslaughter can be up to 6 years in prison, hardly a slap on the wrist.

The more serious second-degree murder charge leads me to believe that there is a lot more going on in this case than has been reported. I hope for the sake of everyone involved that the specifics of this case will be available to the public at the appropriate time.

--Grossman Law Offices


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